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>> hello, everyone. welcome to special coverage of the latest events in japan. >> here's what he's happening at this moment. fears grow of a meltdown at the fukushima nuclear power ant in japanfter a second explosion at the damaged facility. fuel rods and another reactor in fukushima are the u.n. regular agency says no chain reaction is taking place there. japanese engineers are stepping up efforts to prevent a meltdown at the
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nuclear power plant damaged in last friday's earthquake. the fukushima plant has been hit by two explosions. the latest happened early on monday. rapidly falling water levels have expos fuel rods in another reactor, increasing the risk of a core meltdown. >> it's the third day of japan's nuclear crisis, and the situation at the fukushima power plant remains critical. now there has been a second explosion there. aerial footage shows two damaged reactor suctures. a surveillance camera captured the moment of the blast which blew apart the concrete building surrending the number three reactor. the japanese government says this was a hydrogen explosion. >> we assume that there was a similar explosion at the third reactor as the one that occurred at the first reactor. at this point, we can
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confirm that the container of the reactor is sound. >> but the government has now officially admitted that all three reactorss at the fukushima plant are threatened with a core meltdown, and it may have already started in reactor two, because its fuel rods are now completely exposed. this is terrifying news for the thousands of local residents who evacuated the area around the power plant and have been sleeping in temporary shelters like this one just 50 kilometres from kushima. >> people have been extremely patient so far, but the mood is beginning to shift. >> the tows response is too slow. that's whying things ended up this way. >> they said it was safe and there was nothing to worry about, and i trusted them. >> i'm very angry that they didn't tell us from the beginning to move further
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away. >> aid workers have been distributing blankets and food to people in the evacuation centers. now they're also giving them iodine tab helets, standard procedure following suspected radiation exposure. officials have been assuring them it is merely a precaution. people here will just have to hope that is, indeed, true. >> well, as fears grow of a meltdown at the fukushima facility, i asked our correspondent in tokyo to tell us more about the public reaction to that. >> anxiety, fear, people wondering what they should do. i mean, the government is telling people to evacuate that area and take care of their own safety, but the reality is how can people get out? i mean, they can't even get gasoline. a lot of people not only close to that area, but even in tokyo, they feel trapped right now. >> we hear that iodine is
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being passed out against a precaution against radiation poisoning. do we know how many people have been evacuated so far, and where can they go? >> well, the government has been saying all along it's trying to evacuate 170,000 people, but quite honestly, it's not like someone is going around and doing a head count, and where can they go? already the shelters are overwhelmed, you know, in a lot of areas. they've got shelters divided against potential radiation victims and just the sort of, i hate to say, it but regular earthquake and tsunami victims. >> we hear the death toll is expected to be over 10,000 in the tsunami devastation zone. is that even realistic? >> this is the problem that is a terrifying thing. when you add up the statements of all the various police chiefs and mayors and local officials,
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just in certain areas, the toll would be more than 40,000. the death toll officially, the government is saying 2,800. for some reason, the government is just being very, very conservative. basically they are afraid of scaring people, but a lot of people, i think, are -- would feel better if the government was more open about giving out information. >> more forthcoming. ok. we have to leave it there for now. we thank you for that update in tokyo. >> well, the head of the united nations nuclear energy agency says the reactors at japan's nuclear power plants remain intact and that the release of radiation has been limited. the director general of the international atomic energy agency said the crisis at the fukushima nuclear plant was unlikely to turn into an accident on the scale of the one at chernobyl in 1986. he said the main difference
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is that there is no chain reaction taking place at fukushima's reactors and there a differences in the design and structure of the facilities also made it unlikely that the situation would escalate to that extent. to get more analysis on the nuclear situation in japan, i am joined in the studio by our science correspondent. thanks for being with us. now, as we know, there have been two explosions at the fukushima plant. now there talk of a meltdown. what does this mean and how serious is it for the people of that area? >> well, it's potentially very serious. over 170,000 people have been evacuated in the media area. the explosions on the one what's happening. that was caused by elemental hydrogen released by the partial meltdowns that the japanese government is saying probably has happened. the more grave event, what they're trying to stop is a
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total meltdown inside the reaction chamber itself and inside the primary construction that would shield the immediate environment from more radiation. >> ok. now, in order to prevent this meltdown, what needs to be done? >> it has to be cooled but cooled very carefully because it's extremely hot there now, well over 1000 degrees celcius. when you add water to the mixture it can be very explosive. they are using seawater mixed with boron, a neutron absorber which is able to interfere with nuclear chain reactions. that is thew last-ditch thing they're doing. >> how worried should the people be? >> i think that they should be -- we should all be a little bit worried at this point, but i don't think we're in for acharne noble-style incident. it's a completely different style of reactor and different construction. >> thank you for your assessment. >> well, rescue teams in japan are starting to head off a humanitarian
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catastrophe. simple lifesaving supplies like blankets are needed to prevent the death toll from rising. temperatures in the meantime, are dropping below zero in the worst affected areas. >> the coastal town had a population of 20,000. the are earthquake and tsunami virtually wiped it from the map. the death toll here is astronomical. rescuers have recovered more than 300 bodies, but many residents remain unaccounted for. a school must have once stood around here. this man returned to his home having heard rumors that thieves were trying to steal his few remaining possessions, but they would have found little of value. as in many other towns in
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fukushima other areas, the destruction unimaginable. some people were lucky. they were trapped inside their homes but largely unscathed. >> the next thing i called for help through a window. eventually firefighters came and took me to safety. >> she has returned to her hometown in desperate search of her mother. she is among the 10,000 residents who vanished without a trace. >> everything has been destroyed. i don't recognize anything anymore.
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>> all she finds are a few pictures from the neighbor he's photo album. soldiers continue to comb the wreckage, but find no survivors. >> we'll keep looking as long as we have just a shred of hope. teams from around the world have traveled to the devastated region. among them, a group from germany's technical relief agency. they, too, will be helping with the search and recovery efforts. >> the german president has called on germans to donate generously to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. during a meeting with the japanese ambassador to germany, he said he had been shaken by the extent of the disaster, and that japan would receive a lot of assistance from around the world. all right. let's check in to find out more about the economic
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impact that this earthquake and tsunami will have. >> exactly. we're just beginning to see, japan is just beginning to face the economic cost of the catastrophe, with huge parts of the country's infrastructure damaged and power outages crippling prog ducks, japanese industry and foreign cooperations with operations there are facing a mountain of problems. >> german chemicals giant basf is among the many companies that have had to cut production in japan. all 27 of its factories are affected. above all, the world's largest chemicals company produces plastics in japan but it has faces major power disruptions because many power plants are damaged. for the population at large, a shortage of gasoline has triggered long waits at service stations. the disaster is likely to affect japan's export industry for months. a number of the country's seaports are heavily damaged and unuseable. the damage to the country's
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infrastructure is taking a toll on the entire economy. carmakers, including toyota and nissan, have shut down their assembly lines and it e-is a similar picture for another key sector, consumer electronics. last year, japan delivered 8 billion euros worth of electronic goods to germany alone. sony, the country's largest consumer electronics exporter has already ceased production at eight of its factories. >> and japanese shares tumbled monday on the first day of trading after the first day of trading after the earthquake hit the country's northeast. the nikkei session was down more than 6% monday. carmakers an insurance companies were among the leading decliners. the bank of japan injected over $130 billion euros into the financial system but couldn't stop the sell-off. only industrial and construction companies gained on hopes this he will be in demand once japan
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starts rebuilding. >> and europe's main stock markets also closed lower monday amid concern that the earthquake and tsunami could derail the economic recovery. our correspondent has more on how investors reacted in frankfurt. >> it's very difficult to put a disaster like that into numbers and share prices, but of course at the stock market, exactly this has to happen, so the investors looked at japan through the drewman point of view. german exporters are not hit too hard. insurers are hit hard. shares of insurance and reinsurers went down sharply here on the frankfurt floor. the dax has been driven bound more than 1 1/2%. utility shares have been hit hard. they lost because of the fact that the discussion started off about the safety
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of nuclear power plants here. >> now, here is a quick look at the market numbers in more detail beginning first in frankfurt where the dax closed on the day at 6866. and we head over to new york where the dow jones industrial average is also declining at 11,993. the eurois gaining again the dollar at 1.3996. well, the earthquake in japan ías also had an effect on oil prices. the price of light swede crude dipped below $100 a barrel monday before rising slightly. the reason for the short-term drop in price is a temporary reduction in demand from japan, one of the world's biggest oil importers. demand is expected to pick up once reconstruction begins, at least four of japan's own refineries were shut down after the quake. meanwhile, a number of german companies are evacuating their foreign
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employees from japan. at bmw, 50 workers are returning to germany monday according to a spokesperson at the company's head quarters in munich. at tokyo's airports it is mostly foreigners wanting to leave the country, most of them concerned about a nuclear fallout. and the euro gained on monday on the back of an agreement on debt relief by a deal struck in the early hours of saturday. leaders meeting in brussels agreeed to increase the lending capacity of the bloc's rescue funds from $350 billion euros to $440's billion yure rose. the money can be used to buy bonds of distressed members states. >> the financial markets have reacted positively to the bailout of the buyout fund. trust in the common currency has been restored.
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the international markets should have understood that the euro member states are making sure that we help. >> a part of the package is that the bailout fund may buy ailing government bonds but taking over the debts of others was what germany wanted to avoid at all costs. the meeting has not changed the fact that each leader should be responsible for each of their own responsibilities and the finance minister has two weeks to fine tune the bailout package before a summit of the leaders at the end of the this month. our special coverage of the situation in japan continues after a short break.
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>> the explosions at japan's fukushima nuclear power plant have prompted many european countries to review their own safety. here in germany, chancellor angela merkel has announced that her country will suspend an agreement to extend the life of its nuclear power stations. chancellor merkel called the disaster in japan a watershed moment for germany, too. she ruled out a return to everyday business. safety at every german nuclear plant is now under review. >> we will suspend the decision to extend the life-span of germany's nuclear plants. this is a moratorium, and the moratorium will be valid for three months. >> that move could mean temporarily shutting down some of the country's oldest nuclear plants, such as the reactors in two locations.
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those plants have already reached the end of their life-spans. merkel said the moratorium would not require any new legislation. at the same time, the government is pushing for the development of renewable energies, but it says it has to be an u.-wide effort. >> we can't just back out of the world's most secure nuclear energy system only then to buy electricity from less safe plants in neighboring countries. that's not the solution we want. >> anti-nuclear activists joined members of the opposition outside the chancellor to protest the government he's nuclear energy policy. >> we don't want a moratorium. we want a complete phaseout of nuclear energy. we don't need old nuclear plants to start operating again in four months. we want the german reactors to be shut down once and for all. >> the debate over the future of nuclear energy in germany is heating up again.
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>> since we're already seeing a political knockout from japan's reactor fires, i asked our political correspondent if germany could decide to shut down the country's power plants. >> well, germany definitely will not be taking its 17 nuclear power plants offline right away. that would require that germany import electricity, nuclear electricity from other countries in order to make up for the 25% hole in its electricity supply, and chancellor merkel made it clear today she would not be doing this. what germany has decided to do is to simply suspend the extension of the life of its nuclear power plants for three months. what we probably will see is that a couple of those nuclear power plants, the older ones, will be coming offline sooner than expected. >> with this suspension, do you think this decision has
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been motivated by events in japan or upcoming elections here in germany? >> there are six state ections coming up still this year in germany. nuclear power was an issue in a couple of those already before the earthquakes in japan. the one coming in in two weeks does generate nuclear power and in that state it is going to be an issue. we can expect the government to make concessions perhaps in light of the events in japan. >> thanks very much for your political analysis. >> well, not only here in germany, but across the e. u, questions are being raised about nuclear power. the 27e.u. energy managers are expected to meet in brussels tomorrow for talks on the reactor safety. austria has demanded a quick review. the fukushima threat comes as a number of e.u. countries have been increasing their nuclear capacity as a way out of dependence on foreign oil and natural gas shipments.
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as updates about the ongoing struggle at the fukushima power plants continue to flood in, concern is growing in europe. especially in the nations traditionally opposed to nuclear power. >> the talks heated up quickly. we have to test how resilient they are to earthquakes and how their coating systems function. what about the reactors at the show and electricity generators and so on? >> nuclear power has seen a reemergence and finland has already approved the construction of new stations. 30% of the european union's total energy needs are covered by nuclear power. france is europe's nuclear giant. 70% of its electricity comes from nuclear power. that may explain the french
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government's guarded reaction to the events in the moment we don't hae the information we need to form a clear picture. >> france is also hosting the e.u.'s most ambush tious and expensive nuclear project to date. work is underway on an experimental fusion reactor. the european commission is pumping $7 billion into the project, but now may have to reconsider. let's move on to other international news now, and the united arab emeritus says it has sent some 500 police officers in to bahrain to calm anti-government protests by the kingdom's shia muslim majority. earlier on monday, some 200 saudi military vehicles entered bahrain carrying troops. bahraini state television shows footage of a convoy crossing a convoy and bahrain called on other gulf
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states to help kwell the demonstrations which are calling for more democracy. the opposition has called the move an act of war. roadblocks set up on protestors sunday to prevent access to the financial business harbor have remained in place. >> well, the libyan government says its forces continue to make advances against rebels in the east of the country. a rebel spokesman has denied claims that government troops have regained control of the oil port of brega and are now pushing towards bengazi. >> gaddafi's sources bombarded rebel positions in and around this key town. >> airplanes came and bombed people. look. a bomb landed there. we are civilians. we are not militants. >> pictures from libyan state television suggest things are back to normal, apparently retaken by government troops on sunday. but the rebels say a bitter
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battle is still being fought for the town and its oil terminal. britain and france have pushed for a no-fly zone. >> we're having technical difficulties, but let's just have a quick recap of the main developments for you at this hour. engineers are working around the clock to stabilize the situation at the fukushima nuclear power plant, but they say they cannot rule out a reactor meltdown, and an explosion occurred at reactor number three earlier on monday. however, authorities say the core container remains intact. >> nuclear fuel rods in the reactor unit number two have been reexposed. the rescue operation on japan's northeast coast continues, and the police do fear that the death toll will rise to more than 10,000.
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meanwhile, german chancellor merkel has announced berlin is suspending an agreement to extend the life of the country's nuclear plants. we leave you now with the latest developments. we will continue to keep you updated on the latest developments here and we would like to leave you with some images from the japanese disaster. so stay tuned. k
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PBS March 14, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT

News/Business. Breaking news from around the world. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Germany 10, Japan 6, Merkel 4, Tokyo 4, Europe 3, Fukushima 3, France 3, Frankfurt 3, Bahrain 3, Us 2, Brussels 2, Basf 1, Unuseable 1, Bmw 1, Toyota 1, Nissan 1, U.n. 1, Fukushima Nuclear 1, Fukushima Facility 1, Dollar 1
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